Unkindness (PDF or Print)
Cover Art, Illustrations, and Layout by DT Butchino
Published by BlackWyrm Publishing
Disclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided by the folks at Atomic Array.
First off, let us get the basics out of the way: Unkindness is an adventure for used with Heroes 6th Edition or ICONS that is 36-pages in length, which accounts for the front and back covers, blank inside cover pages, an informative credits page, an advertisement, a two-page license, and 28 pages of adventure material. There's color art and maps, a wide variety of dual statblocks for non-player characters, and more.
Secondly, it ain't often that I come across a gaming product that shares a touchstone with my academic life, yet Unkindness does just that with its psychological subject matter. Often when folks here 'mature themes' they think danse macabre, erotica, or some untoward thing, yet with Unkindness we're exposed to an all-to-common untoward act, as both a motivation for the events in the adventure and focal point for the heroes and their actions and re-actions. Not only did I find this an interesting avenue with respect to adventure design, but I applaud the message at the core of the adventure.
Yeah, I know, that's a bit vague, but I hate spoilers and I think that this is one best left discovered via player, or while laying out an adventure.
Basically, as a soon-to-be-graduated professional in the field of psychology, I'd like to take my hat off to Michael Satran and BlackWym Publishing for working with a difficult subject in a way that was both creatively sound, and morally sound.
But, enough of the lofty thought, and on to the grit of gamerness.
Unkindess is an adventure that you can drop into pretty much any location with only a modest amount of shoehorning. It includes some crisp maps that can not only be used for the adventure that they're included with, but also any contemporary roleplaying game. The art is very comicbookish, and it reminds me of some of the more indie comics, or small pressed from the 80s or, possibly, some of the later 70s.
You've a mysterious villain, unusual henchmen, and Norse mythology all rolled into a plot that's deeper, and perhaps more twisted, than a first or second look would suggest.
As the tag line suggests, "And even the mightiest of gods can be inspired by the evil that men do..."
Unkindness does just that. Not only could it pluck at heartstrings, and mash buttons on issues of the heroes, but perhaps their players as well. But, that's what roleplaying games can do for folks. Empathy is an interesting skill to hone, as not only seeing how someone else walks in their shoes, but why they walk as they do can be a powerfully moving thing.
So if you're up for an interesting game with your players, one that might have them think beyond the table while still having a good time, then Unkindness is definitely the right choice for your table.
Buy yours today, for $3.95 (PDF) or $6.95 (Print).
Want to learn more about Unkindness? Read on...